Sea Turtles Don Poop-Collecting Wetsuits – for the Sake of Science

by Carolyn Sotka

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Sea turtle collection in Moreton Bay, Australia for important diet studies. Photograph from University of Queensland News

Researchers at the University of Queensland, have been working from the ‘bottom’ up to figure out what loggerhead sea turtles eat and where that prey is from so improved conservation measures can better protect the endangered species.

When faced with the dilemma of trying to collect feces from extremely heavy sea turtles, UQ researchers Owen Coffee and Carmen da Silva came up with a new way to use the old standby for poop collection – a turtle diaper.

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The sea turtles customized giant ‘nappy’. Photograph from University of Queensland News

After capturing and containing adult sea turtles, they outfitted the turtles with a wetsuit harness with a removable separate diaper. The “nappy,” which is shaped like a cloth funnel, was attached to a hole at the tail-end of the customized wetsuit and held in place with Velcro, to not lose any of the precious material for additional foraging and diet studies.

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Collection time at UQ’s Moreton Bay Research Station in Australia.  Photograph from University of Queensland News

To read more about this unique strategy check out University of Queensland News Web site. -CS

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